When you buy through links on this site, I may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

How to Avoid Shoulder Pain When Sewing (Tips and Exercises Provided)

The best thing you can do to avoid shoulder pain when you sit for a long time when using the sewing machine is to take a break every half hour.

But rest should be made up of stretching and shoulder movements. It is essential to pay attention to the posture adopted at the time of sewing since it tends not to do it, and over time, this can have consequences.

The good news is that it is easy to avoid these bad habits that so much war can give us in the future. It all comes down to being aware.

That is why in this guide, you will find some easy exercises to do at home when sewing and some tips to keep in mind to take care of the health of your shoulders.

Easy and Effective Shoulder Exercises that Prevent Pains (Great for Sewists)

Whatever you already have pain or to avoid discomfort in your shoulders, arms, upper back, lower back, and neck, it is advisable to start doing some simple exercises in your work intervals and follow some tips such as the following:

  • Leave your chair and walk once every half hour.
  • You should not work more than 4 hours per day to avoid muscle pain.
  • It is recommended to leave the shoulders in a low position to avoid fatigue.
  • Neck rotation is a highly recommended movement.
  • Once every 30 minutes, it is advised that you do shoulder shrug movement to avoid contractures.
  • Before and after the sewing session, doing some spinal stretches will help you avoid many aches and pains.

An exercise is known as “static back” is straightforward to perform to prevent the spine from slouching or suffering from a herniated disc.

First, you must lie on the floor so that the spine is as straight as possible. You should place your legs and feet on a surface so that you form an L, i. e., with bent knees.

Stay in this position for 5 to 15 minutes so that the spine stretches and the back and shoulders muscles relax. You can combine it with breathing exercises.

Now, let’s move on to other exercises, which consist of stretching the muscles that make up the shoulders, thus relaxing them and having a high back without contractures.

To do them, you will need an elastic band, and, ideally, you do it when you finish your work with the sewing machine since it may take you more time (10 to 15 repetitions each).

Exercise 1- External rotation

  1. In a standing position, bring the elbow next to the hip and bend it to a 90-degree angle.
  2. Holding an elastic band, begin to move the hand and forearm away from the body while maintaining the elbow positioned close to the hip.
  3. During the exercise, keep the shoulders away from the ears and drawn toward the back to maintain good posture and avoid possible impingement. (The movement is from the inside out.)

Exercise 2 – Internal rotation

  1. In a standing position, bring the elbow next to the hip and bend it to a 90-degree angle.
  2. Holding an elastic band, begin to move the hand and forearm away from the body while maintaining the elbow positioned close to the hip.
  3. During the exercise, keep the shoulders away from the ears and drawn toward the back to maintain good posture and avoid possible impingement. (The movement is from the outside to the inside.)

Exercise 3 – Scaption

  1. In a standing position, begin with the palms next to the side of the hips.
  2. Lift the arms at a 45-degree angle in front of the body up to shoulder height.
  3. Keep the shoulders away from the ears and drawn toward the back to maintain good posture and avoid possible impingement.

Exercise 4 – Rows

  1. In a standing position, begin with arms straightened in front of your body.
  2. Holding an elastic band, begin to squeeze your shoulder blades together while bending the elbows and pulling the elastic band towards your body.
  3. Avoid lifting the shoulders towards the ears or leaning the body toward or back. If standing is difficult due to balance, this exercise can be done sitting.

Exercise 5 – Wall angels

  1. Being by placing the spine, head, elbows, and hands against the wall.
  2. Staring with the arms lifted at a 90-degree angle and elbows bent at a 90-degree angle, slowly slide the arms up the wall, then bring them back to the starting position.

On the other hand, practicing yoga exercises will help you relieve shoulder and back pain since this discipline focuses on stretching that, in turn, takes care of your joints.

How to Keep Your Body in a Neutral Sewing Position?

Maintaining a neutral sewing posture means keeping your back straight. This position helps the muscles and joints of the back and shoulders relax.

To carry out this position for a long time, you must pay attention to the posture adopted while working, to the point of making it a habit.

#1. Have a friend or family to watch you

We know that keeping your back straight can take time if you have never paid attention to that detail as you pay more attention to your work.

Therefore, if you have someone close by, ask them to observe you from time to time to remind you that you are not sitting properly.

This will greatly help you correct yourself if you are not yet in the habit of sitting upright.

#2. Switch your feet and rest the other one

It is convenient to use both feet to use the pedal. In this way, the muscles of both feet can be used, i. e., while using one foot for half an hour, the other can rest, and after half an hour, make the change, like this until your workday ends.

If you drive a car, you may have your dominant foot, but the good news about the sewing machine is that the pedal can move around, so always keep it close to the foot to be used so that you can leave both feet at an angle of a 90-degree angle.

This is also a matter of habit, but it is advantageous since your back and shoulders can also relax.

#3. Use Ergonomic furniture

Believe it or not, having suitable ergonomic furniture greatly influences posture and shoulder, neck, and back pain.

For example, you should pay attention to the type of chair you use since the straight posture that we are looking for depends largely on this furniture.

There are chairs suitable for sitting for a long time that allow you to work when sewing without losing the back’s straight posture.

These chairs usually have wheels, comfortable padding. You can adjust the height and even tilt the backrest, something you cannot do with a common chair.

How to Setup Your Own Sewing Ergonomic furniture?

To help relieve shoulder pain, pay attention to the furniture you will be using when sewing.

#1. Chair

The chair’s height should allow you to place the soles of your feet on the floor at a 90-degree angle.

If to press the pedal, you have to stretch your feet to make the machine start, which means that the chair is high and you need to adjust it.

If you do not have a chair to adjust the height, use one that is not so high or so low, and ideally, it would not have armrests.

Also, to know if the chair’s height is correct, you should avoid leaning on the table when working. Even if the chair is low, you can fix it by sitting on a cushion.

#2. Use a table with the right height

Using a table with a suitable height is also important. As well as the chairs, some tables allow you to adjust the height.

But if you do not have a table of these models, you must make sure that it allows you to place your legs comfortably below and that it is at the elbows’ height, allowing you to support your forearms comfortably.

The table’s correct height prevents you from leaning forward or lifting your shoulders, causing tension in the neck and back.

#3. Lower the ironing board

The ironing board should also have a height according to your own height. Generally, this type of surface should be lower since force is usually applied to correctly carry out this task.

Still, you should be able to iron comfortably without having to strain your neck and shoulders.

On the other hand, you should not forget to keep your back straight when ironing to avoid future contractures.

What Other Things Can I Do to Release the Shoulder and Back Pain?

Many people dedicated to sewing every day, i. e., their job and income source, often resort to back, neck, and shoulder massage.

To do this, they usually ask a friend or family member to give them daily short sessions massages at the end of the workday.

On other occasions, many people do not have someone to provide them, so they have a small battery or electric devices to provide self-massages. This is also valid to relieve and/or prevent pain.

One of the activities that helps the most is undoubtedly lying on the floor so that the back muscles relax and rest. As we said at the beginning, you should get up once every half hour to prevent contractures.

Keep in mind that heat is the best option if you have pain in the neck or shoulders since heat helps the muscles stop being tense.

If your pain is chronic, the best solution is to request a chiropractor visit since the professional will work on the specific affected area.

Is It Normal That You Feel Pain in Your Shoulders and Back While Sewing?

Feeling pain in your shoulders and back when you are sewing should not be part of the activity. However, many people do not maintain a correct posture, which is when the pain appears.

If you keep your back straight, you shouldn’t have any problems whether you’re just doing it for 1 hour or 4 hours a day.

If you hear someone say that sewing will cause problems in the neck, shoulders, and back, do not believe them, it is not true, and in that case, you should ask them how they sit.

You must do your exercises every day respecting the aforementioned half-hour intervals. On the other hand, if you have already suffered back damage for some other reason, visit a chiropractor.


What can you do to avoid back pain from sewing?

Maintaining a correct posture is very important, but the proper use of the work area, such as the table’s height, chair, and ironing board, also influences. Avoid sitting for long periods. Rest every half hour.

How to avoid neck pain from using a sewing machine?

Do stretching exercises on your 30-minute break, even at the end of your work. Rotate your neck and arms to prevent contractures, but do it gently.